Moving mountains and applying band-aids: The state of policy capacity in Canada

Karine Levasseur


The literature on policy capacity in Canada suggests some governments have experienced an increase in policy capacity while other governments have experienced a decline. At the same time, the policy capacity of the voluntary sector in Canada is thought to be weak. Given the increased role that the voluntary sector is thought to play in the public policy process, this raises an important question: how do the differentiated policy capacities of government and the voluntary sector intersect? This paper provides an answer to this question through an examination of policy capacity at the programmatic – or micro - level. The paper identifies four case studies across Canada and assesses the impact of differentiated levels of policy capacity among voluntary organizations and the corresponding units/branches within government departments. The paper concludes that public policy process unfolds differently depending on the mix of policy capacity amongst actors.


policy capacity, scale,

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@Canadian Political Science Review (CPSR). ISSN 1911-4125